Breastfeeding is one of the greatest tools when raising babies. It is the easiest way to “take your kitchen with you” and feed your baby wherever you go. You don’t need to measure quantities or temperature, no containers, no washing afterwards and you don’t need a pharmacy to help your baby with its immune system.
When Eden was born, I had a huge infection and a very high fever. For a week or so, I was not allowed to breastfeed her. In the nursery, they gave her a bottle every 4 hours, like clockwork. We stayed in the hospital like this for 10 days. Once I was released home, everyone told me I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. I was so disappointed.
I quickly decided, “No way! I will breastfeed!”. Eden was so used to the bottle, I had to use a plastic nipple but I persisted and she breastfed beautifully. No problems at all. I was even extra lucky. She was used to the 4 hours cycle, so breastfeeding was easy and on a schedule. Let me tell you, having 3.5 hours of sleep in between feeds for a new mom was a luxury.
During the time I was in the hospital, I went to listen to the nurses’ tips and suggestions. One of them said, 10 minutes from each breast is more than enough. I had this in my mind the whole time. When other moms were never sure if their baby was full or not, I said “10 minutes from each side is more than enough”. Breastfeeding was 20 minutes like clockwork, and I was sure she had enough.
Eden was a huge baby. She was born weighing 3kg on the first day of the 36th week. She was full-term and she ate like clockwork. She was so big that she was off the charts. Some people told me my milk was too fat for her and that I should stop breastfeeding her. Which is silly because there is no such thing as too fat breast milk.
My suggestion is: if you can do it, breastfeed! Breastfeeding makes life much easier. And try to get into a routine. Avoid breastfeeding the baby every time he or she cries. Babies often cry for other reasons beside being hungry. I always had a bottle with warm (previously boiled or mineral) water ready. Often, it was all she needed.
Some people say that babies should drink only milk and not water. I think they do not take into consideration the fact that we live in air-conditioned environments and we are thirsty as well. If you live in a warm climate (we spent a few years in Thailand and Singapore), feel free to adapt any baby-raising tips you find in a Western book.
Make sure to have at least a 2-hour break between feeds and extend them as much as you can (up to 4 hours). A baby that eats every 3.5 to 4 hours is the easiest baby on earth. At night, try to extend the gap to 6 hours or more by breastfeeding just before bedtime.
Try breastfeeding. It is a fantastic experience and a great bonding opportunity. If it drives you nuts, or you cannot do it for a physical reason, give yourself a break. Remember that a mom who has gone nuts is much worse than feeding from a bottle.
Enjoy your baby!